Sartorial Robotics by Adam Whiton



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Figure 2-4. Mr. Televox (left) pictured with the 1939 World’s Fair updated metallic aesthetic named Elektro (right).

The robot perhaps largely responsible for the iconic boxy metallic aesthetic we so often associate with the concept of a robot is Elektro, Figure 2-4. Elektro was a humanoid robot built by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation and exhibited at the 1939 New York World’s fair and thus received worldwide exposure. Elektro had an internal metal skeletal structure with electric motors turning gears and chains that moved his arms and allowed him to even walk in a crude manner. He could follow voice commands and could speak about 700 words. Photoelectric cells in his eyes enabled him to recognize two colors, red and green and he could even smoke a cigarette. Elektro was again mainly for promotional and publicity appearances, but he and his Westinghouse robotic predecessors could be considered the basis for the pursuit of humanoid consumer robotics.



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